It is perfectly natural and normal to feel worried
So you just completed your exam and thought it had gone well until you heard people sharing answers outside the exam hall. Were you betrayed by your calculator? Did you answer the wrong question? Maybe they’re the ones who got the question wrong.
All these questions are floating around your head and it’s making you anxious. It is perfectly natural and normal to feel worried, and you are not alone – even the best-prepared and highest achieving students feel worried about exams.
Follow our survival guide below to help you survive this time of post-exam stress.
DON’T COMPARE ANSWERS
Once you are out of the exam hall, the exam is finished – don’t waste time reliving it by talking about the answers. Either you’ll make yourself feel stressed or you’ll make someone else stressed. Don’t be that person.
Similarly, don’t go to online forums and find unofficial mark schemes to see if you ‘got it right’. Those mark schemes are not always accurate and it will just add to your anxiety because you will think that this is final, that these are the correct answers when that’s not the case at all.
TALK TO SOMEONE
Just because you can’t talk about the exam questions doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to someone about how you’re feeling and your worries. Talking about these fears out loud will allow you to be able to regain control over them instead of letting them control you. Instead of allowing your brain to replay that one question you think you got wrong or that mistake you made over and over again, you can talk about it and figure out a response to it. So when that thought resurfaces later, you already have an antidote against it.
It’s not as bad as you think
Sometimes we think we have completely failed but often this is just our paranoia projecting a few mistakes we made and applying them to the whole paper. Maybe you did make mistakes on two questions but this does not mean that you failed the whole paper!
When we’re anxious about something, we tend to focus on and exaggerate the negative so it’s very unlikely that you did as badly as you think you did.
IT’S NOT OVER UNTIL THE FAT LADY SINGS
It’s not the end of the world even if you didn’t do as well as you think you could have. You might have done really well on other exams that will bring your overall grade up. You can also retake the paper. And there will be many other opportunities, ensuring that new (and often better) doors will open for you.
KEEP LOOKING FORWARD
You probably have other exams coming up so try not to dwell on this single one for too long because then you can get bogged down in negative thoughts which might sabotage your chances at the next ones. Allow yourself some time to be disappointed, and talk through your feelings, but then try to get back on track with your revision schedule and ace the rest of your exams. That way this one paper will just look like a fluke!